Rugby World Cup 2023: all the rules for beginners

Rugby World Cup 2023 all the rules for beginners

The Rugby World Cup going to start from September 8 to October 28. To better understand the subtleties of this sport with often complex rules, we offer you a simplified summary of them, to know the basics.

Backward Passes

The first peculiarity of rugby is that players are forbidden to pass the ball in hand forward. They must therefore do so only to a partner located behind them, or on the same line. If the referee believes that the ball has moved to the front of the passer, he will whistle a foul, called “forward”. Ditto if a player drops it by clumsiness in front of him.

The Melee

Symbol of rugby, the scrum brings together the eight “forwards” of each team (the strongest players, whose number is between 1 and 8). Both packs must push to gain possession of the ball, which is introduced in the middle of the scrum. In the majority of cases, a scrum is whistled when one of the teams has committed a “forward”.

The Key

In rugby, the touch takes longer and mobilizes more players than in other sports. As with the scrum, they concern the “forwards” of each team, even if they are not all obliged to be present (the team that got the key decides the number). Each team organizes itself in line (called “the lineup”) and must make sure to lift one of the players (with the help of two teammates) so that he retrieves the ball, sent in the air.


Another peculiarity of rugby, the players in defense must stop the opposing attacker (the one who carries the ball) by making him fall to the ground. This is called a tackle. The goal is to grab the opponent with his arms and impact with the shoulder, to unbalance him. The tackle must be made between the ankles and shoulders. If it is too high, the referee whistles a foul and often distributes a card (yellow or red, depending on the severity). Similarly, it is forbidden to grab an opponent, make him take his feet off the ground, and turn him over to make him fall back (cathedral tackle). In this case, the expulsion is immediate.

The Ruck

When a player is tackled, he finds himself on the ground with his opponent. It is then enough for another player to intervene to try to take the ball or protect it (depending on his side) for a ruck to be reported. The game is not interrupted and both teams can compete for the ball without making a mistake (being on your knees, arriving on one side, being in the opposing camp…). This match situation, very frequently, is often the most complicated to understand because the players are entangled and give free rein to many interpretations of the rules.


Offside is the most common foul in rugby, as the possibilities of being caught by the referee are numerous. At each ruck, for example, the players in defense (who do not play the ball) must necessarily place themselves behind a fictitious line, symbolized by the feet of the last participant in the grouping. In the current game, the offside line no longer exists, unless a player is in front of a partner of the same team when the latter kicks the ball. In this case, the player placed in front must not make any play action until his teammate has overtaken him, under the penalty of being sanctioned.

The Game at The Foot

If rugby is a sport that is played with the hands, the use of the foot is not prohibited. On the contrary, it is even an important weapon for teams, to allow the ball to be sent back as far as possible in the opposing camp, or to surprise the defense. In the latter case, the players will make a small kick (see the gif, below) to try to recover the ball, or a candle (ball very high in the sky), to put pressure on the opposing team.

But most often, the footwork is used to occupy the field. It is then possible to choose to leave the ball in the playing area or to make it come out in touch, to break an action. A peculiarity of rugby is that in the latter case, the ball must touch the ground in the field before leaving in touch, for it to be valid. An exception exists, however, in the case where the player has shot from the area of the 22 meters closest to his goal, materialized by a white line on the ground.

The Different Ways to Score Points

In rugby, there are many ways to score points, and they don’t earn the same number. When a player crosses the opposing goal line and manages to flatten the ball to the ground, he scores a try. This one is worth five points and then allows you to type a transformation. It is then necessary that the striker of the team puts the ball by positioning himself in front of the posts but remaining on the line where he has been flattened. It is then up to him to kick him between the poles (see the gif, below). If he succeeds, he adds two points for his own.

It is also possible for a team to score a penalty try. This is a decision of the referee, who considers that the defenders committed a foul that prevented their opponents from scoring a try. The penalty try is worth seven points upfront, as there is no need to convert it.

It is also possible to score points without the need to cross the opponent’s goal line. When the referee whistles a penalty against a team, his opponent then has the opportunity to try to score three points, by hitting the ball between the posts, like the transformation. When a defense is very well organized, sometimes that’s the only way to score.

You can also score three points by making a drop, which consists, in the current game, of a player kicking the ball, having bounced it just at the time of the strike. If, as for the conversion or penalty, the ball passes between the opposing posts, the points are validated.

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